Volleyball stars UBC's top athletes

The spotlight shone on two of Canada's best volleyball players and three of its top varsity teams at UBC's 78th annual Big Block Club Reunion and Awards Banquet held last week.

Chosen as the university's female and male athlete of the year were volleyball standouts Joanne Ross and Mike Dalziel. Three UBC teams -- women's field hockey and women's and men's swimming, which all won Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) national championships -- share the du Vivier Team of the Year award.

Highlights of the banquet included the induction of 121 Block members (second-year athletes, coaches and trainers) a season-in-review video as well as the presentation of UBC's major athletic awards.

"It was a banner year - in fact a three-banner year," says Kim Gordon, UBC's intercollegiate co-ordinator.

"UBC earned three conference championships in addition to three national titles," adds Athletics and Recreation director Bob Philip. "There were many outstanding individual performances. UBC athletes are also competing internationally -- keep an eye on our swimmers and others at the Sydney Olympics."

Joanne Ross competed with the Canadian National Team and joined the T-Birds halfway through the season. She earned All-Star and Outstanding Player honours on the way to helping UBC win a second consecutive Canada West championship.

One of the nation's best-ever players, Ross is graduating in Science this year. She won the Marilyn Pomfret Trophy for top female athlete.

Mike Dalziel, who will graduate with honours in Mechanical Engineering this year, has been an Academic All-Canadian with an average of at least 80 per cent in each of his four years at UBC.

He led the CIAU in service aces and earned UBC's Bobby Gaul Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the graduating male athlete who displays outstanding leadership and sportsmanship.

The Thunderbird women's field hockey team kicked off the 1998/99 season with UBC's 41st national championship. UBC's Hash Kanjee was named CIAU Coach of the Year after leading his team to victory over the UVIC Vikes in the championship final.

UBC's swim teams successfully defended their CIAU national titles and coach Tom Johnson was named CIAU Women's and Men's Coach of the Year for the second straight season.

The low point of the season was the recent resignation of football coach Dave Johnson after a physical confrontation.

Last year, the football team and university community lost head coach Casey Smith to cancer. Smith was posthumously given the Arthur W. Delamont award for freshman spirit. It was accepted by his widow Karen Smith at the banquet.